Oil prices closed out the week sharply down, wiping out all the gains posted since the start of the year.
Surging U.S. shale production, along with broader financial turmoil, has clearly put an end to the bullish mood in the oil market. U.S. shale struck several blows against oil prices this week.
First, the EIA dramatically overhauled its forecasts, predicting U.S. oil production would hit 11 million barrels per day (mb/d) this year, rather than late next year. Then, on Wednesday, it revealed estimates that put U.S. oil production at 10.25 mb/d for the week ending on February 2, a staggering 330,000 bpd increase from a week earlier. Those weekly estimates are subject to revision when more data becomes available, but if those figures hold, it would point to a significant ramp up in drilling activity and new supply coming online.
As a result, it seems that, in the short run at least, U.S. shale has killed off the oil price rally, which saw WTI move from $50 per barrel in October to the mid-$60s per barrel by January. Brent saw a similar jump from the mid-$50s to $70.
But we’re now potentially moving into the next phase of this cycle, an all-too-familiar correction after prices have seemingly climbed too far.
This time around the downward swing could be aided by a rebound in the strength of the dollar. Typically, a weakening dollar pushes up oil prices, and the rapid run up in prices over the last few months occurred not coincidentally at a time when the dollar posted a steep decline. But the greenback has clawed back gains, particularly over the last week, with expectations of rising interest rates.
“The dollar index got down to 86 [cents], crude got to $66,” John Kilduff, founding partner of Again Capital, told CNBC.
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